Employee Mental Health
Mental Health Awareness Month

Chatbook’s Life-Changing Benefit & Secret to Promoting Employee Wellness

May 17, 2024

As part of Tava Health’s Employee Mental Health initiative for Mental Health Awareness Month, we interviewed individuals who are building exceptional mental health benefits for employees.

In this interview with Ana Vila, the People Ops Manager at Chatbooks. She’s been with the team for four years and is responsible for promoting benefits to the team to increase awareness and adoption.

Mental Health Awareness Month takes place every May, and this year, Tava Health focuses on “Employee Mental Health.” As part of our campaign, we’re taking the entire month to highlight different HR and benefits leaders who are making huge impacts on the mental health of their employees. You can read all the stories here.

How does your company actively promote mental health awareness and destigmatization in the workplace?

We kick off mental health as something that we promote and encourage from day one. During new hire orientation and during onboarding, we make sure to highlight our mental health benefits, sharing the heavy support from our management team on the flexibility to schedule Tava appointments during work hours. We emphasize the unlimited and company-covered nature of these benefits during open enrollment as well. We regularly promote mental health webinars and resources through our wellness slack channels. We’ve also used our engagement surveys to check if employees feel their mental health is supported at Chatbooks. We ensure we're meeting employees' mental health needs and providing adequate support. I know I have full support from my manager to schedule Tava therapy sessions during the workday, which is available to me for free from Chatbooks. This really helps normalize it

What specific initiatives or programs has your HR department implemented to support employees' mental well-being?

As a small team, our People Team at Chatbooks heavily relies on Tava to bring more resources to our team. We lean into Tava and all the amazing webinars, resources, and tools that they’ve put together. While we haven't implemented specific initiatives, we integrate mental well-being into our culture and manager training. We highlight events like World Mental Health Day and emphasize bringing one's best self to work. Managers are trained to recognize when employees may need support and to refer them to Tava. We intertwine mental health with other wellness efforts and continuously seek additional resources for support.

“We really lean heavily into Tava and all that they’ve put together.”

Can you share examples of how your company fosters a culture of open communication regarding mental health issues?

Our culture promotes open communication about mental health starting from the top down. Our executive and leadership teams prioritize discussions on mental health, recognizing its impact on performance and well-being. We provide internal resources like a wiki page and trust our managers to navigate these conversations with their teams effectively. Our leaders openly take mental health days, setting a precedent for the rest of the team, which is really impactful. Throughout an employee's journey, we’re consistent about emphasizing mental health, and we leverage various channels to ensure it stays top of mind. Mental Health support looks different for everyone, so we encourage our managers and their teams to talk through what that looks like for them personally. For example, I have had open communications with my manager about how I’m best supported: flexibility, 8 amazing hours of work, time away for Tava once a week, and time off to recharge. Our mandatory time off policy requiring team members to take one week off every season reinforces the importance of self-care for our team.

Our leaders openly take mental health days, setting a precedent for the rest of the team.

In what ways does your organization accommodate employees' mental health needs, such as flexible work arrangements or counseling services?

We have a mandatory time off policy that ensures everyone takes a full week off every season, along with a two-week winter break. We offer unlimited flex time, allowing late mornings or early evenings, and even provide ski passes for seasonal enjoyment. Volunteering is encouraged, fostering a sense of fulfillment and purpose. With our flexible work culture and remote-first approach, employees choose where they work best. We just ask that everyone be online during our core hours.

Chatbooks also makes sure that employees are taking care of themselves. There’s this acceptance of “do whatever you need to do to do your best work.” We believe that family always comes first, aligning with our mission to strengthen families and allowing employees to prioritize personal commitments like dance recitals and soccer games. We want them to be part of those things first because we know that enriching their lives in other ways will help them be their best selves when they're on at work.

How do you measure the effectiveness of your mental health initiatives and ensure they are meeting the needs of your diverse workforce?

We gauge the effectiveness of our mental health initiatives primarily through Tava’s utilization metrics. Tracking these numbers helps us understand when our team needs more support, especially during busy periods like Q4. While we're still delving into data analysis, we measure success through participation rates in wellness challenges, aiming for at least 5%. Recognizing that not every initiative fits everyone's needs, we strive for a balance of outreach methods to accommodate diverse preferences. As a small team, we're keen on learning from larger organizations and welcome insights from partners like Tava. Feedback surveys, especially during our benefits review in September, help identify opportunities for improvement.

Have you encountered any challenges in implementing mental health support programs, and how have you addressed them?

Sometimes, it’s hard to find a diverse network or resources made for all walks of life. It can also be challenging to find diverse therapists who represent all different possible life stages and paths. Tava has done a good job of adding more diversity to its network. Another challenge is when someone has had a bad experience with therapy or their therapist changes platforms/provider networks. It’s really hard to encourage someone to revisit their hardships, but everyone can benefit from a stronger support network.

We encourage everyone to take advantage of our amazing (and unlimited) mental health benefit through Tava. Therapy means adding another person to your network and your support system – it’s another person who can support you and educate you. This experience has been eye-opening to our interns, and so we kicked this year off with a focus on health and taking care of yourself. Overcoming stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health is a neverending effort. We try to change the narrative, telling our team, “Regardless of where you are in life, mental health support is a great thing to have.” This message seems to resonate with everyone! 

Regardless of where you are in life, mental health support is a great thing to have.

What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to prioritize mental health within their own organizations?

You must lead by example if you want your company culture to change! There's something to be said about visibly seeing other people prioritizing mental health even in the middle of a work day. I hope that other HR leaders are leading the way in that they prioritize their mental health and normalize that it is a consistent part of the employee lifecycle. Managers should be trained on how to bring up mental health in a sensitive way and empowered with resources like Tava that they can share with their teams. Tava is one of the most powerful tools for our managers as they look for ways to support their teams. As an HR professional, manager, and employee, I can't imagine my life without Tava. 

You must lead by example if you want your company culture to change!

I love Tava. We’re so lucky to have this incredible resource. It’s been so impactful to our team. We love this benefit. We're all doing our best, and it's just a really nice feeling to prioritize mental health as an organization.

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